There's so many great games this weekend that it might feel a little intimidating for the casual fan. Fear not LOI lovers, we're have the 5 things to look out for in week 5 of the SSE Airtricity League to help!
1) Cork City is buzzing for the visit of Shamrock Rovers
As we predicted a couple of weeks ago, it looks like tonight's game in Turners Cross will be close to a sell out. Cork City have certainly mobilized their considerable bandwagon and with a table of the table clash against the league's biggest brand name, it comes as no surprise. Both sides enter the game with 10 points, having won their last 3 league games and having the same same goal difference. It's a big test for both sides though as their wins have come against teams with a combined points total of 7 (Cork) and 8 (Rovers). Cork's home record is phenomenal in recent times but the last team to win in Cork was Rovers last June. It's all set up for a cracking night in Cork
2) Another chance for Pats to kick start their season
We said it last week and it really does apply again this week. If St Pats are to retain their title they need to start performing. They've had injuries to key players but they should have had enough depth to beat Limerick last time out in Inchicore. Tonight they host the team that pushed them hardest for that title as Dundalk come into town. Dundalk have clearly recovered from their horrible start to the season but last week's draw with Bohs showed they're not the finished product either. Last year games between these sides saw 2 penalties and 2 red cards and they were all close games for the whole 90 minutes. Another tight game should happen onight in front of the watching RTE cameras. Kick is earlier than normal; 7.05pm on RTE 2
3) Derry's first win or more pressure on Sligo Rovers and Ian Baraclough?
It's incredible to think that a manager could be under pressure 5 games into a league season but Sligo Rovers have high expectations (rightfully so, having won a major trophy every year since 2010) and if they lose in Derry tonight it will be their 4th straight league defeat. Recent history is on their side though as Sligo have won the last 5 games between the sides. Roddy Collins is still looking for his first win as Derry City manager and they're also looking for their first goal at home tonight. One might be enough though as Sligo's 3 defeats have all been by a 1-0 scoreline.
4) Mick Cooke returns to Drogheda with Athlone
The last 2 seasons were very succesful for Drogheda United. Coming on the back of fiancial troubles, many tipped them for relegation in 2012. Instead they finished 2nd that season and won the EA Sports Cup while last season they reached 3 cup finals. By all on-filed measurements, Mick Cooke was a tremendous success with the club. In September they announced that they would not be renewing his contract for 2014, and Cooke wasn't happy. Tonight he revisits United Park as he brings his pointless Athlone Town team and he's sure to have them fired up.
5) The LOI silly season begins with 2 games in 4 days.
The LOI premier division team play twice this weekend with a full round of fixtures on Monday. For the top clubs it's the start of a ridiculous stretch of games with 9 games scheduled between tonight and Easter Monday/Tuesday for the Setanta semi finalists. Its far too much football for already thin squads but finances dictate that the shortened season has to happen. Thankfully this weekend doesn't see any side play away twice but that will happen later in the year.
Whatever happens, enjoy the games!